Sorry for the delayed article but know it’s time to think about the Western Conference where amazing happens, quoting an Nba commercial.
Clash of Titans
It’s not a secret that this season the spotlight are focused on Los Angeles. Both Lakers and Clippers changed, adding superstars in their roster. In particolar the Purple&Gold adds Anthony Davis, via trade this summer, and from free agency Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins (unfortunately he will miss all the season due to an injury), Denny Green one of the pillars of the Toronto Raptors’ championship, Avery Bradley a good defender and Jared Dudley a really good fighter. This players were adding along side Lebron James, Kuzma and Rajon Rondo the only three starters that remains from last season. In addition they also change the coach, Luke Walton was fired and Frank Voghel became the new one. My first impression of the match against the Warriors is that the team is obviously very good and it’s seems more than the past year that every players are focused to help James and Davis to win the title.
But, there is a BUT, Clippers. Infact the old “other team of LA” was not watching but in total silence they placed two stellar operations. The first was the signing of Kawhi Leonard, the MVP of the Nba Finals 2019. The operation was a rollercoaster until the day of the signing, the sam Doc Rivers wa doubt about that infact some week ago he tells the anecdote and the truth about the last hours of the operation:
At 4 we were running again; at 5 still outside the games; at 6 o’clock we no longer had a chance. So I chose to go to dinner with friends, from Nobu, but while I’m parking he calls me on the phone again Frank. “No, da Nobu no – he pleads with me – in that place the phones don’t take and we are still in the running for Kawhi’s yes.” Then I give up dinner and stay in the car, I go back and forth on the Pacific Coast Highway until we complete the trade. When I come in from Nobu my mood is completely different. I remember that we needed a Lakers supporter at the table: he kept telling me how sure he was that Leonard would be wearing his yellow shirt. The news of our agreement was not yet out …Doc Rivers
The sign of Kawhi was possible also thanks to the other operation: the trade of Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Oklahoma he never touched the level of competitiveness he reach in Indiana, but if he is healthy and both Rivers and Leonard give him some spotlight, he can really return the superstar player that we saw with the Pacers jersey. But the Clippers are not just this two superstar. They have Harrell, JaMychal Green, a lot of role players and last but not least the “Warrior” Patrick Beverly. He is a hell of a player in my opinion, good offense, good threepoint shooter and tremendous defender. He is one on the players in Nba that can go easily under the skin of the opponent and make him commit mistakes. And most important with George, Leonard and Beverly together on the floor they can shut completely the opponents offense for 3-4 minutes and if the rumor of Iguodala joins the Clippers is true, that number can only increase.
The Golden State Warriors
They lost KD. Klay Thompson is unavailable for half of the season. Iguodala was traded. Livingston retires. But I don’t think they are out of the playoff. The two leader Draymond Green and Stephen Curry will have hard time this season but they can do it. The roster is still good, they have some role players likeBurcks and McKinnie and also they adding D’Angelo Russell, who have a outstanding season with the Nets, Willie Cauley-Stein a good player that need some fresh air and also they resign with a good contract Kevon Looney, one of the most interesting player in the roster that fit perfectly with the playbook of Steve Kerr.
Houston we (don’t) have a problem !
CP3 and Harden never like each other, they are professionals and have behaved as such. But things didn’t work in that ways that they expect, injuries included, and for this reason they decide to part away. The Houston Rockets this summer trades Chris Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook, in this way 2/3 of the Oklahoma’s superstars are reunited. The good news is that they, as said before, play together early in their careers, the bad news is that both Westbrook and Harden play a lot of isolation and the sport of basketball, as i remember, is played with one ball. Apart from that Mike D’Antoni has been confirmed as Headcoach and the roster remain the same with Capela, Gerald Green, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers and Nene as the main core of the team.
The Denver Nuggets are one of the favorite for the first seed in the Western Coference. Period. They have two dynamic guards as Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, a good all around player as Paul Millsap and the one of a kind center: Nikola Jokic. A triple double machine and the pillar of the gameplan of coach Malone. With them they also have this year Michael Porter Jr. 14 overall pick of the 2018 draft. He is a really good prospect that was stopped by an injury. With all these praises they are still good enough to win the ring ? I don’t think so. For me the Denver Nuggets it’s the classic team that is very good and vey talented but they are missing something that nobody knows.
But I’d like to be denied, really I do. They deserve all the best for the work they do this year during the draft and free agency.
Both Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers can be top 3-4 in Western Conference. They both have added players that need in order to compete.
Last year Utah Jazz lacks of someone that can control the ball and leave more space for Mitchell to move without the ball. For this reason they add Mike Conley via trade (if they saw what Ricky Rubio did at the world cup i don’t think they made the trade). They also add Jeff Green and Bojan Bogdanovic a very good shoter and all around player, that make the roster very interesting along side with the defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles.
Some conclusion for the Portland Trailblazers. They have the best combo guards in NBA with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. With them there are a lot of role player but they lack in presence in the paint. For this reason during free agency they add the experience Pau Gasol and Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat.
We all hope that this is enough for both teams to reach the final stage of the Nba playoff.
In this group there are all the team that in my opinion will battle for a spot in the playoff. In particular I talk about Spurs, Timberwolves, Mavericks and surprise Pelicans. This team are not good enough or their situation is not solid. In the first category included Mavericks and Pelicans. The team from Dallas have in Doncic a bright future but the health of Porzingis in relation to his contract is something to be worry about. With them there are some good player like Barea, Seth Curry, Marjanovic and Hardaway Jr. but they are not enough to be competitive in this western conference.
Instead the Pelicans are very young team, not focused on made playoff but they can steal the 8th position if they soon learn to play together. All the hype is for Zion Williamson first pick of the last draft, with him the management adds Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick, Josh Hart and the italian Niccolo Melli. Even if they can’t make the playoff, I think they’ll still fun to watch not only because they are young and want to prove their qualities but also because the headcoach is Alvin Gentry.
Different situation for the other two teams, Spurs and Timberwolves.
Something in the Spurs mentality is not more the same. Ginobili, Parker and Leonard are gone. Duncan returned as assistant coach and this could be the key to rebuild the system that makes the Spurs a great team. Regarding the roster they are the same of last season with Murray who return from the injury.
Timberwolves, instead, are the eternal Peter Pan. They refuse to grow up. They continue to have this bad attitude during the matches, in particular the two stars of the team Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. They both have a lot of talent but they continue to waste it.
Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns are teams that need another shoot at the draft before they can compete for the playoff.
Oklahoma do not have a bad team, in the trades for Westbrook and Paul George they add Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and they still have Adams and Schroder. But in the same trades they acquire a lot of draft picks sign that they are more focused on the future than the present.
Kings and Suns are in the same position, a lot of young player to develop and some expert player to mentor them. A personal mention to Devin Booker. Why you decline the World Cup. That’s experience for you. You never played in a competitive match, and the World Cup (Ok it’s not the Nba playoff) was a good proving ground for you.